All pre-recorded sessions and papers will be available on the website during the conference week. The Program lists all the Q&A sessions that are going to happen on a dedicated Discord server. All Presenters and registered Attendees will receive a link to the server via email.
Below you can find the abstracts of all the presentations with Q&A sessions scheduled for Friday (Presentations 18 to 33).
For the Thursday abstracts, please click here.
P18: Svenja Spyra – Fem(me)bodiment. (Queer) femme-ininity in German queer and feminist contexts since the 1920th
Judith Butler argued in Gender Trouble (1991) that feminist aims and representations are threatened to fail, if the communities are not able to acknowledge and consider the powerful structures which define and frame processes of subjectification (Butler 1991). German academic research on lesbian, queer and feminist contexts shows a lack of research on projects focusing queer femme-ininity, despite the fact, that there is already a lot of research on other queer identities (ibid. Fuchs 2009a, 2011). The main aim of this talk is to explore the History of the term and embodiment of ‘(queer) femme-ininity’ in subcultural and political contexts in Germany.
With the use of Ogbanje, a spirit child that lives on the peripheries of both spirit and human world, Akwaeke Eemezi tries to represent a counter-hegemonic view of the western discourses around gender and selfhood. The otherness represented by Ogbanje works on both the level of gender and on the level of cultural politics where all cultures from the occident are looked upon as others.
This paper will use Judith Butler’s “Gender Trouble” and Taiwo Osinubi’s essay “Queer Prolepsis and the Sexual Commons; An Introduction” to closely examine Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater and their creation of a narrative and identity that transcends the boundaries of western discourse around gender.
Moving beyond the hegemony of west, Emezi specifically blends the concept of gender and centres their narrative in Nigerian traditional culture and cosmology. Emezi uses the protagonist Ada; a child of Goddess Ala, as a tool of resistance not only against the colonial hegemony but also against gender policing. Thorough the conscious act of using Igbo cosmology which has been excluded and delegitimised by the efforts of colonisation, Emezi tries to develop an understanding and their own version of gender dysphoria. They also explore the freedom of being multiple through the shifting narrators and point of views in the novel. These multiple narrators symbolise the balance that Emezi tries to create by synthesising traditional cultural ideas with western scholarship.
The aim of this paper is to analyse the use of cultural mythology and spirituality in literature by Emezi to transform and transcend the discourse around gender dysphoria and reinventing the medium of claiming self/selves.
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P20: Emilia Nodżak – Women Working in (Non)Traditional Occupations – the (in)Visible Bodies and Gender Performance
The paper presents partial results from an ongoing study on women’s occupational identities in early 21st century American primetime dramas. Based on the research material consisting of 51 TV series that were originally broadcast from 1999 to 2010, it focuses on one of the strategies that women use in the process of building an occupational identity and examines the role of the body as linked to the demonstration of professionalism. Major female characters and their storylines have been subjected to qualitative and quantitative analysis, covering such aspects as age, race, body size and shape, sexuality, reproductive practice, and disability. The overall results suggest a heavily restrictive dominant cultural construction of working women’s bodies. Additionally, they reveal contradictory messages regarding femininity and gender performance in the work-related context. Overall, the norms of white Western heterosexual femininity appear to remain vastly unchallenged.
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Both Erica Jong’s Fanny and Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School are, in various ways, novels of marginality. In an obvious sense, these are two works of metafiction written by and about women in a postmodernist canon long associated with men; as Jeanette Winterson has noted, ‘when women include themselves as a character in their own work, the work is read as autobiography’ whereas ‘when men do it—say Milan Kundreva or Paul Auster—it is read as metafiction’. Reading these novels within the frame of postmodernism thereby helps us not only to broaden this canon, but also re-apprehend the logic of ‘postmodernism’ itself as centrally concerned with reading from the margins. Using the techniques of early postmodernism (such as metatextuality, pastiche, and the unreliable narrator) both Fanny and Blood and Guts are able to ‘[work a] reader through a deconstruction of the female subject’ and demonstrate the extent to which it is variously ‘written by patriarchy’, in the words of Sciolino. Particularly in their re-centring of young girls, Jong and Acker accompany an examination of gendered forms of socialization with an interrogation of the ‘myths’ of femininity as reified by a male-dominated literary canon. The form of the bildungsroman becomes an exploration of how a ‘cute’ girlhood beset by naïve bad faith can be transformed—through a characteristically postmodernist disassembly of language—into a new and authentic literary language of femininity.
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P22: Jędrzej Olejniczak & Patrycja Karpińska – The emancipated and the submissive: A research project on the representations of men and women in translated erotic literature
The aim of the paper is to analyse the potential shift in linguistic representation of men and women in English erotic literature and in its Polish translations. In our study, we investigate the description of the characters within the novels, with emphasis placed on the used verbs and adjectives, the representativeness of each sex (the amount of text devoted to the description of males and females), as well as the differences between the English texts and the Polish translations in the analysed samples of the texts, identifying the employed translation techniques. The study is performed in the mixed approach, putting to use both qualitative and quantitative methods (especially corpus-based methods and Toury’s Descriptive Translation Studies). The paper is a continuation of the research project we have been developing for the last two years and which focuses on the translation of modern erotic literature from English to Polish and analyses it using both quantitative and qualitative (especially corpus-based and DTS) methods. So far, the study has indicated deep changes occurring in translation, including censorship or self-censorship, which result in an undeniable change of the text modality with the emphasis on poetising and romanticising of the erotic language (Karpińska & Olejniczak, 2019). Specifically, translators (coming from various backgrounds and working for various publishing houses) had a particularly strong tendency to simplify, omit and completely modify the original narratives when those revolved around the topic of sexual taboo. We believe that this tendency might be more pronounced in the descriptions of a particular gender rather than being universal.
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History is always written by the dominant without giving a voice to the marginalised. However, by rewriting the past from the perspectives of the voiceless, many literary pieces have provided an alternative version of history/reality and given these voiceless people a voice. This panel proposal includes two Indian novels—Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel and R.K. Narayan’s Waiting for the Mahatma—and one South African novel—Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying—and aims to show the way all three novelists attempt to rewrite the past and thus starkly contrast the official version of history. In The Great Indian Novel, Tharoor focuses on the concept of reconstructing the past by reinterpreting myth and history. He restructures the stories from the epic Mahabharata from the point of view of the political history of India and seems to emphasise the notion of history as something ever open to reinterpretation. In Waiting for the Mahatma, Narayan writes about the suffering of Indian people and their resistance to British rule, and thus gives a voice to the colonised people. By giving them a voice, he allows them to come up with their own version of Indian reality. In Ways of Dying, Mda allows the marginalised to come up with an alternative history of anti-apartheid movement by deromanticising it and exposing its evil. Mda’s alternative narrative rewrites the experiences of traumatic events and emphasises the necessity of remembering and sharing the characters’ traumatic past as a precondition for healing. It is the desire of the oppressed to provide their own version of history and thus to be heard and recognised which binds all these three novels together.
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P24: Anna Bendrat – “I don’t think you should be in this hallucination”: The thresholds of revelation in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America
In the Theatre section of the New York Times (March 2018) Charles McGrath wrote about the “tremendous, transformational success” of Angels in America, which is “not just a Tony and Pulitzer-winning hit, but a masterpiece, arguably the most important play of the second half of the 20th century.” The play is subtitled “A Gay Fantasia on National Themes”, which include AIDS epidemic, homophobia and the political climate of the Reagan era. However, in my presentation I focus on a less explored theme of Angels, namely the intimate personal relations of the main characters: Louis and Prior (a gay couple marred by the experience of AIDS) and Joe and Harper (a married Mormon couple). I argue that their respective relationships develop in a parallel way to eventually intertwine, both in real life (with Louis and Joe as a couple) and in hallucinatory visions (with Harper and Prior reaching the threshold of revelation). The analysis is based on the concept of a threshold which in the play goes beyond the dream sequences and thus resonates with Peter Stockwell’s concept of edgework. Through the sentiment analysis of textual contents of the two couples’ dialogues, I illuminate the complexity of the reading experience when the readers have to find their way through the interweaving multiple plotlines.
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In late 2003 Joyce Carol Vincent died in her London flat. No one knew. No one would know for some time. Her body would remain, fixed, caught still as she was wrapping Christmas presents, television on. Passed from view and the world. She would stay invisible for almost three years.
This paper is about the life, and death, of Joyce Vincent, and how her story has been adapted and reformed through documentary, interactive digital fiction, and music.1 I discuss the potential for adaptational storytelling to explore themes of loss and return, and through such multimedia explorations, to make the absent, present.
The resultant adaptations may be seen to function as both memorial and exploration of a dream of a life, and an invitation to the viewer to visit the forgotten moment, to perhaps ‘restore and repair the lost and damaged “good object”.2 The memory of Joyce is turned to again and again, the echoes of a life interacting with one another, each giving voice to the fragments of the past. The revisioned texts discussed present an attempt to venture towards ‘a region where time has stopped of its own accord and try to reactivate it’, or at least make sense of it.3
1 See Carol Morley, Dreams of a Life, (UK: Dogwoof Pictures, 2011), Hide & Seek, Dreams of Your Life, (UK: Hide & Seek, 2012), Steven Wilson, Hand. Cannot. Erase. (London: Kscope, 2015).
2 John E. Baker, ‘Mourning and the Transformation of Object Relationships’, Psychoanalytic Psychology, 18.1 (2001), 55-73 (p.55), < http://www.griefcounselor.org/articles/prof-article-mourning-and-transformation-baker.pdf> [accessed 1 June 2017]
3 Suderberg, ‘Introduction: On Installation and Site Specifity’, in Space, Site, Intervention: Situating Installation Art, ed. by Suderberg, p.24.
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P26: Paulina Szymonek – Wolves in the City of Domesticated Women: The Queer Wild of Olivia Rosenthal
In 2009, in the city of Nantes, a pack of six wolves was released in a public park as a part of Stéphane Thidet’s artistic installation. A book of short stories accompanied the event. One of the authors involved was Olivia Rosenthal, who then incorporated the story into Que font les rennes après Noël? (2010), in which captive wolves are introduced to a city. In this post-natural environment, the animals are to provide a semblance of the wilderness for the residents, yet they remain enclosed in an extended zoo designed by man—an act that domesticates both sides of the fence which separates humans from wolves. Rosenthal’s protagonist is one of such captives. Her life runs parallel to that of an animal; she grows up in a strictly controlled environment, and social standards are imposed on her. In a semi-autobiographical vein, Rosenthal explores the issues of queer and gender marginalization, as well as emancipation. At the same time, she seeks to dismantle the binary oppositions that put animals, women and queers on the other side of the fence. Rosenthal is not the first to put forth the idea. Building on Val Plumwood’s critique of human/nature dualism, Greta Gaard has linked queer and ecofeminist theories in 1997. Nature does not care for categories—urban wolves are no longer an artistic experiment, but reality. While negotiating the shared space of women and wolves, this paper aims to discuss the concepts of wildness and captivity in light of the queer ecofeminist theory.
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In this paper, I look at contemporary romances as a source of transgressive pleasure that may aspire to its audience the rejection of patriarchy. I understand romances as narratives of a love story between a man and a woman with emphasis on the psychological dimension of the female character throughout her trajectory from an object of desire to the man’s ideal partner (Ramsdell 1999).1 Radway (1983, 1991) claims that for women in the patriarchal paradigm to whom emotional labor is exclusively assigned, romances constitute an act of self-care, if not defiance, since women allocate time to their personal pleasure: they vicariously nurture themselves by identifying with the heroine whose needs are being taken care of by the hero.2
At the same time, Radway warns that romances make women rationalize and accept their disenfranchised position inside the male canon. Indeed, most romances favor a conventional resolution to the love story: the hero and the heroine marry and have children perpetuating the patriarchal economy of the woman becoming the mother and caretaker. Roach (2016) on the other hand calls for a reparative reading of the romance. According to her, the happy ending offers a fantasy in which the hero challenges patriarchy in one way or another and proves to the heroine that he can share the emotional burden of a conjugal relationship. Therefore, romance can also be seen as a manifestation of a feminine fantasy inside the male dominance, which can potentially lead to the understanding of patriarchy as a construct and as such subject to an end.
While Roach highlights romantic fantasy’s appeal as the end of patriarchy, she is hesitant to make the connection between reading the romance and actively rejecting patriarchy since the texts themselves retain rather overturn the system. Here I argue that the pleasure of romance is indeed a means towards the dismissal of patriarchy. Not only does the romance constitute a nucleus of a feminine ideal that women may use as a reference to any problematic and inadequate behavior of real-life partners but they also can juxtapose this experience with the lack of pleasure patriarchy entails for them. In that, romance possesses a transgressive power that may facilitate women’s realization of their dissatisfaction and their refusal of their role as emotional labor.
1 Popular examples include: 365 Days (Barbara Bialowas and Tomasz Mandes 2020), Lover Awakened (Ward 2006), Fifty Shades of Grey (James 2011).
2 In this, Radway is in dialogue with critics that consider romances meretricious, if not pernicious, escapism. Further on the subject see Douglas (1980), Snitow (1979), and Modleski (1980).
Bialowas B. and Mandes T., (2020), 365 Days, Ekipa, Netflix.
Douglas, A., (1980), “Soft-Porn Culture,” The New Republic, 30 (Aug. 1980), pp. 25-29.
James, E.L., (2011), Fifty Shades of Grey, New York, NY: Random House.
Modleski, T., (1980), “The Disappearing Act: A Study of Harlequin Romances,” Signs 5 (Spring 1980), pp. 435-48.
Radway, J.A., (1983), “Women Read the Romance: The Interaction of Text and Context,” Feminist Studies 9, 1 (Spring 1983), pp. 53-78.
Radway, J.A., (1991), Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature, USA: The University of North Carolina Press.
Ramsdell, K., (1999), Romance Fiction: A Guide To the Genre, Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
Roach, C. M., (2016), Happily Ever After: The Romance Story in Popular Culture, Bloomington, IA: Indiana University Press.
Snitow, A. B., (1979), “Mass Market Romances: Pornography for Women is Different,” Radical History Review 20 (Spring/Summer 1979), pp. 141-161.
Ward, J.R., (2006), Lover Awakened, New York, NY: Signer Eclipse.
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P28: Anna Oleszczuk & Agata Waszkiewicz – Queering Virtual Bodies: Customization in Western Video Games
The power to modify, deconstruct and push beyond the limits of one’s body has greatly expanded over the past few decades as science and technology now allow for much greater transformation of body’s performance. Customization of one’s body in terms of the categories such as sex and race, previously a science fiction trope, has been made possible by the 20th-century science. One could think that as cultural texts that rely heavily on the modification of one’s virtual body, virtual games would employ systems allowing for the incorporation of similar changes as well as the range of meanings ascribed to them. However, our research proves that even the games that have the most advanced customization options tend to neglect the potential of body modifications for exploring diverse models of identity.
In the presentation we analyse selected video games that incorporate a range of customization options and explore models of identity transcending the heteronormative social structures. In order to do so, we introduce the concepts of body modifications as well customization and examine them in relation to queer theory as well as gender and women’s studies. Finally, we interpret the incorporation of extensive body modifications in video games as matching the feminist programming strategies proposed in 1998 by Justine Cassel.
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P29: Sarah Merton – Shame, Blame and Weighing Scales: Fighting for Fat Female Visibility on Instagram
Cyber citizen channels have presented marginalised bodies with the opportunity to express their embodiment on their own terms. The #bodypostive hashtag has now been featured in over 13m Instagram posts and presents a contemporary case study to explore how fat female identities are being positioned in these digital domains. Through so-called ‘selfie empowerment’, increased public exposure to nonconformist body types is said to foster greater naturalisation. Informed within a context of historic feminist literature, highlighting how feminine corpulence has been policed within the patriarchal society, this research extends understanding to consider networked user-generated counter narratives. Fat acceptance represents a key facet of body positive activity, which seeks to respond to fatphobic oppressive structures with an inclusive ethos. During spring 2020, this study surveyed 500+ #bodypositive Instagrammers to gather protestor perspectives regarding whether fat positive visibility is being achieved on social media. Findings suggest that although the opportunity exists online for the subversion of narrow beauty standards, hegemonic ideals are being replicated within the movement’s mobilisation strategies. Furthermore, evidence indicates that the platform itself limits Instagram’s potential as a protest site to host inclusive body narratives.
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P30: Bobbi Ali Zaman & Ben Anderson-Nathe – Queering Developmental Discourses: Countering the Social Construction of Childhood and its Implications in Media
Early childhood education (ECE) reliance on developmentalism has become an essential tool towards universalizing childhood and how one understands the child. Similar to ECE, social work, and youth care practitioners are taught to understand youth through developmental theories that are rooted in biologically essentialist and a Darwinian understanding of human development. In early childhood education, cognitive development theories, particularly Piagetian theories of development, have helped construct and universalize guidelines for teaching and understanding children. Developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) is a prime example of how developmentalism has not only dominated early childhood discourses but has become required knowledge for early educators and those working with youth. This universalized understanding of the child becomes the dominant discourse and guides how media represents the child and how the child should be understood. Perpetuated in children’s literature, media, and children’s toys, developmentalism’s grip on the child is reliant on the child as not only “not-fully-human” but unable to reach adulthood until arbitrary milestones are met that signify heteronormative and capitalistic desires. Queer discourses and critical counter-narratives of the child help deconstruct and expose the heteronormative and not-fully-human implications that come with the social construction of the child and childhood. These counter-discourses not only illustrate the perpetual situating of the child under adult superiority but explore traditionally excluded queer narratives that challenge state power over the child. By incorporating concepts from both queer scholars such as Kathryn Bond Stockton and Jules Gil-Peterson, and Feminist Poststructuralist Early Childhood Educators such as Mindy Blaise and Erica Burman, this paper entertains how notions of the queer child, “growing sideways,” identity fluidity, and the power of the imaginary open new possibilities for how we understand media and social narratives of childhood, children and youth beyond developmentalism through a queer orientation.
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P31: Bryce Stout – Everyone is Here? An ethnographic exploration of competitive Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Modern esports is dominated by platform-driven titles like Activision-Blizzard’s Overwatch and Riot’s League of Legends. In contrast, the grassroots scenes that have risen up around Super Smash Bros. offer a unique glimpse of organized competitive gaming carried out without the level of active, “platformized” involvement and infrastructural support typical of other developers. Past feminist ethnographic fieldwork at public gaming events helped to inform my observational protocol and recruitment process for 18 semi-structured interviews conducted at Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournaments. Particularly salient aspects of this include attempted reflexivity and consciousness of how my subject position as a cis, white, American man influences my work both in the field and the academy; ethnographically and citationally. Active effort is made to transform my own investment in Smash into an opportunity for reflexivity, rather than a constraint. In addition, this work challenges online/offline distinctions of community formation, making it a useful framework for future connective ethnography—while the traditional, in-person fieldwork provides structure to this ethnography, experiences in spaces like Facebook and Discord cannot be ignored or discounted.
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In this paper I examine the ways in which men protect a masculine ideal as they discuss military sexual assault. Rape is an under-reported crime, but significantly less likely reported by men who have been assaulted sexually (Javaid, 2013). The Department of Defense recently released a report indicating a higher than expected number of reports of male-on-male sexual assault, leading to a host of research (Morris et al, 2013). Rape in the military, military sexual trauma (MST), is complicated by a rigid hierarchical system that implicitly discourages those who are victimized to name higher-ranked accusers. Men in the military are further limited by the correlation between rape culture and hazing in the armed forces (O’Brien, Keith and Shoemaker, 2015). I use discourse analysis to analyze the comments in a GQ article concerning male military rape, and an Ask Me Anything (AMA) Reddit thread where the author discusses the article. Both sources contain comments from self-identified men who discuss their military sexual trauma. Using concepts of “substitution” and “Not this way but that” developed by James Paul Gee(2004), I analyze identifiable comments of disclosure concerning male rape experience. Men are less likely to use the word “rape” to define the experience, and focus on other terminology that highlight the violence of the experience or the structural dominance that demanded their compliance (e.g. hazed or forced). Men reinforce hegemonic elements of masculine discourse by discursively evading the sexual aspect, to distance the femininity they internalize by being sexually violated. Disclosure becomes what Foucault (1982) refers to as a confession, but the masculine discourse used by victims attempts to reclaim agency from the decentering effect of male-on-male rape.
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P33: Joseph Hurtgen – The Invisible Man is Never Invisible: The Hegemonic Subjugation of Invisible Bodies
In H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, the eponymous scientist increases his visibility in society when he turns himself invisible. This inversion comments directly on the relationship between technological progress and society, revealing that the various practices used to control populations become ever smaller, more unseen, while simultaneously becoming more efficient, ensuring that the technocrats and the billionaire class retain control. The Invisible Man’s invisibility, like the near invisibility of the surveillance apparatus, is a tactical invisibility. In contrast to subjugated bodies that are a priori invisible, bodies, whether physical, sovereign, or corporate, that choose invisibility further subjugate the already invisible. Consider the Invisible Man’s pronouncement of power through invisibility: “And I beheld, unclouded by doubt, a magnificent vision of all that invisibility might mean to a man—the mystery, the power, the freedom.” Those, like the Invisible Man, in positions of privilege, with access to technology, and in a position of power, can turn invisible or not, either way, they retain privilege and power. Whereas, the subjugated body is always invisible, marked by an invisibility that is neither chosen nor borne of technology, but is amplified by largely unseen mechanisms of power, the ideological state apparatus, laws that maintain disenfranchisement, jobs that don’t pay a living wage, and a tacit agreement to keep bodies invisible.
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For the Thursday abstracts, please click here.